Kennard-Dale freshman Jessica Ollis considers a pair of running shoes with her mother, Iris, both of Stewartstown, at Flying Feet in Spring Garden Township
Kennard-Dale freshman Jessica Ollis considers a pair of running shoes with her mother, Iris, both of Stewartstown, at Flying Feet in Spring Garden Township on Thursday. Jessica plans to run track this year. (Bill Kalina — bkalina@yorkdispatch.com)

There was a run on athletic shoes at Flying Feet on Thursday afternoon, as back-to-school shoppers searched for sales before kids head back to class next week.

The store at 1511 Mount Rose Ave. in Spring Garden Township is a throwback to small-town shoe stores, and owner Greg Baum said his team measures, fits and sizes shoes for Flying Feet's customers.

"And you better have knowledge about what you're selling," he said.

This week the store has sold a lot of running shoes and cheerleading shoes.

"Our business sees an influx with fall sports and back-to-school sales," Baum said.

Flying Feet specializes in athletic shoes and sells many pairs for cross country, volleyball and tennis.

Flying Feet Sport Shoes employee Chris Doemland fits a cheerleading shoe on Breanna King, 5, who was shopping with her mother Teagan Floyd at the Spring
Flying Feet Sport Shoes employee Chris Doemland fits a cheerleading shoe on Breanna King, 5, who was shopping with her mother Teagan Floyd at the Spring Garden Township store Thursday, August 14, 2014. Breanna is cheerleading as a kindergartner at Loganville-Springfield Elementary this year. Store owner Greg Baum said his store sells a wide variety of cheerleading gear. Bill Kalina - bkalina@yorkdispatch.com

"It's crunch time now. A lot of people are coming in last-minute for their shoes," he said.

Baum is expecting a busy weekend at his store, and many local moms were already swiping their credit cards before Friday arrived.

At Bon-Ton: Bethany Crabb had outfits draped over her shoulder as she sifted through racks of children's clothing at Bon-Ton inside the York Galleria.

The York Township mother of two was looking for "good buys" on summer clearance, she said.

"It's warm when they go back, so I'm trying to find some cheap shorts and T-shirts to get them started," Crabb said.

Kristen Ware had her eye on jeans.


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"I know I might pay a little more now, but I like not having to worry about it later. Once the school year starts, the kids get so busy with activities we don't have a lot of time for shopping," the Hellam Township mother of three said.

The local moms said they spend about $500 to $600 on back-to-school shopping.

Spending: That's actually below what the average family will spend this year, according to the National Retail Federation.

The average family with children in grades K through 12 will spend $669 on apparel, shoes, supplies and electronics — a 5 percent increase from the $634 per-family average last year.

Retailers are expected to rake in a combined $75 billion this year, according to the trade organization.

The upswing is attributed to slow improvements in the economy and growth in consumer confidence, said Matthew Shay, CEO of the National Retail Federation.

"While we are encouraged ... and expect to see continued improvement in consumer spending throughout the year, we know Americans are still grappling with their purchase decisions every day," he said.

Parents are still striking a balance between what their children want and what they actually need, he said.

Those shopping for high school will spend the most, followed by those shopping for middle school and elementary school, according to an NRF report.

Kids get more expensive as they get older, and nobody knows that better that someone shopping for a child moving into a dorm, the report said.

College students and their families are the "real golden geese" when it comes to school shopping, spending an average $916 per student, Shay said.

"The varsity class often gets overlooked each summer as back-to-school shoppers drive the news, but the truth is that today, college students and their parents contribute a significant amount to the economy," he said.